Under the law in BC, not all contracts are alike. If you enter into a contract, your cancellation rights depend on the type of agreement you made and the circumstances.

Understand your legal rights

Under the law in BC, an agreement where you don’t receive the goods or services immediately, or you don’t pay in full upfront, is a future performance contract. Examples include a contract for home repairs or a contract to join a fitness club. Special rules apply to these contracts. (A contract under $50 is not covered by these rules.)

Requirements for the contract

Under BC law, a future performance contract must include this information:

  • the supply date (the date the goods or services will begin to be supplied)
  • the date when the supply of the goods or services will be complete
  • the name, address and telephone number of the seller
  • a description of the goods or services
  • an itemized purchase price for the goods or services, including taxes and shipping charges, plus the total price under the contract
  • a detailed statement of the payment terms

A future performance contract must be in writing and you must have signed it.

Cancelling the contract

You must be given a copy of a future performance contract within 15 days after you sign it.

If the contract you get doesn’t have all the information the law requires, you have up to a year to cancel it. Consumer Protection BC’s website includes cancellation forms to complete and send to the business.

Under the law in BC, a continuing services contract is a type of future performance contract where you receive services over a period of time, rather than all at once. The specific types of contracts falling within this definition are spelled out in a regulation: fitness facilities such as gyms and yoga studios, self-defence studios, personal trainers, dance lessons, and travel club memberships.

Requirements for the contract

A continuing services contract cannot be for more than 24 months.

The contract must include all the information required in a future performance contract (explained above). The contract also must state you have the right to cancel any time within the first 10 days.

Cancelling the contract

You may cancel a continuing services contract anytime within 10 days of receiving a copy of the contract. This is called the “cooling-off period”.

As well, you can cancel a continuing services contract at any time if there is a material change (meaning significant change) in the services provided or in your circumstances.

For example, if you sign up for tango dancing lessons and the dance studio switches to offering only tap dancing classes, that is a material change in the services provided. You could cancel the contract.

Or if you break your leg or you move more than 30 kilometers away from the dance studio, either is a material change in your circumstances. You could cancel the contract.

In each case, you would have to prove the material change. For example, you would have to provide medical documentation showing why you can no longer participate in the activity, or show proof of your new address.

If you cancel because of a change in your circumstances, you can get a prorated refund based on how much of the service you’ve used, minus 30% to cover the business’ costs. If you cancel because of a change in the services provided, you can get a prorated refund without any deduction.

Consumer Protection BC’s website includes cancellation forms to complete and send to the business. (You can use the cancellation forms for a future performance contract, as a continuing services contract is a type of future performance contract.)

Under the law in BC, a direct sales contract is one signed at a place other than the seller’s permanent place of business. This could be at your home, buying from a door-to-door salesperson. (Though note that if you, a relative or friend invite a supplier into your home more than 24 hours in advance, any contract you sign is not considered a direct sales contract.)

Requirements for the contract

Under BC law, a direct sales contract must include this information:

  • the supply date
  • the place where the contract was signed
  • the name, address and telephone number of the seller
  • a description of the goods or services
  • an itemized purchase price for the goods or services, including taxes and shipping charges, plus the total price under the contract
  • a detailed statement of the payment terms

The contract must state you have the right to cancel any time within the first 10 days.

The contract must be in writing and must be signed by you.

There is a limit to the down payment a seller can require in a direct sales contract. The down payment can not be more than $100 or 10% of the total price, whichever is less. For example, if a door-to-door salesperson comes to your home and sells you a vacuum cleaner, the salesperson cannot ask for a down payment of more than $100 or 10% of the total price, whichever is less.

Cancelling the contract

You may cancel a direct sales contract any time within 10 days of receiving a copy of the contract. This is called the “cooling-off period”.

If the direct sales contract does not include the information required under the law,  you have up to one year to cancel it.

If you don’t receive the goods or services within 30 days of signing the contract, you have up to one year to cancel. For example, if you don’t receive within 30 days a vacuum cleaner you paid for, you have up to one year to cancel. If the vacuum cleaner arrives after 30 days and you accept it, you lose your right to cancel the contract.

Consumer Protection BC’s website includes cancellation forms to complete and send to the business.

A time share is a legitimate form of owning an interest in property. Often, the time share is for one week per year at a vacation resort. Typically, you go to a presentation, tour a condo unit, and then sign a contract. Before you sign anything, however, make sure the deal is right for you. Never sign a contract unless you understand it completely.

Cancelling a time share contract

Under the law in BC, if you sign the time share contract in BC, you can cancel it within seven days. This applies whether the time share relates to property in or outside of BC. But — and this is very important — if you sign a contract outside of BC, for example in Mexico, for a Mexican time share, BC’s time share law does not apply. Instead, the contract will be controlled by the law of the country or province where you signed the contract.

Common questions

If you cancel a continuing services contract or a direct sales contract within 10 days, you have the right to get a full refund within 15 days after cancelling — even if you’ve already received the goods or started using the service. Once you’ve received your money back, you must return the goods. And you must take reasonable care of the goods while you have them because you are responsible for any damage to them while you have them.

If you try to cancel a future performance contract, continuing services contract, or direct sales contract, and you don’t get a refund, check with Consumer Protection BC for more information and possible options.

Get help

Consumer Protection BC provides assistance relating to certain types of consumer contracts in BC, including future performance contracts, continuing services contracts, and direct sales contracts.

Toll-free: 1-888-564-9963
Web: consumerprotectionbc.ca

The Better Business Bureau assists people in finding businesses they can trust.

Web: bbb.org/ca/bc

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada

Reviewed in October 2017

Time to read: 6 minutes

Reviewed for accuracy by

Wendy Andersen, Digby Leigh & Company and Laura Cox, Consumer Protection BC

This information from People’s Law School explains in a general way the law that applies in British Columbia, Canada. The information is not intended as legal advice. See our disclaimer.

Related

On Dial-A-Law

Dial-A-Law has more information on Contracts in the section on Consumer.